Monday, July 14, 2008

It's Good to be the Queen Part II, and... I Found Angela!

As promised, I'm back with more thoughts on the Barbara Walters autobiography. Throughout the book, I kept questioning how she could remember details from her childhood, after all, it was a few years back. I laughed when she recounted Frank Sinatra's disdain for her. It was so strong that he trash talked her from the Vegas stage on more than one occasion. However, this woman who recalls childhood minutia, just could not recall the cause of Sinatra's anger. Selective memory, surely!

I kept struggling to find a reason to keep reading, looking for some value in what she had to share. Buried beneath the frivolous tales of love escapades, and the everybody- hates -me dramas, lies the story of woman with fortitude. Honing her journalistic skills when she did - faced with the lack of respect for women in the workplace, pre-feminist enlightenment - obviously kept lesser females out of the profession. She stood firm against the good-old boy networks she encountered time and time again. She knew when to bide her time, and when to fight back. She learned what battles to fight and how to fight them. Those are the stories I wanted to hear more of, along with greater details on her groundbreaking meeting with numerous world leaders. But, she told the stories she wanted to tell, which, unfortunately, left me wanting less.

It seems that most people who commit a life to paper share some common elements: poverty so great they often lived in boxes under a bridge; hard childhood, including the pre-mature death of at least one parent, fish, dog, or other close relative; shunned by peers and left out of childhood games because they didn't have shoes to wear; let's not forget that most were told they would never succeed, usually due to a learning disability- typically dyslexia; oh, let's add in failed romances, blackmail, stalkers, and some sort of addcition. Just once, I would like to stumble across a celeb confessional that begins, "I was born rich. Life was easy for me. I am still rich."

Celebrity autobiographies have led to a new, inventive theatre form. Apparently, there is a revolving group of readers, ala the V-Monologues, that stage reading of scintillating passages from star's philosophisings. Paris Hilton... on world peace! Marc Anthony...on sustainability! Paula Abdul...on education! Sounds like a night of great laughs.

The whole confessional movement is gaining momentum. David Nadelberg, author of Mortified, encouraged everyday folks to share their most humiliating experiences. Then he published them. He, too, has launched a staged version, crossing the country with this array of stories, and getting audience members to join the fun with on the spot revelations. I've had a couple conversations with Nadelberg, hoping to produce a good-natured version of his show. He doesn't have a formal script available for production yet, but he gave me some suggestions on how to incorporate his book into a simple show. Maybe we'll give it a try in the future.

If Mortified interests you, try Postsecret and My Secret. Frank Warren randomly placed postcards asking the finders to send him a tiny, personal secret. He got hundreds of replies, many included artwork. He published them. There's also Found. Davy Rothbart's collection of grocery lists, torn photos, bits of Dear John letters...anything written and intended to be shared or used in some respect.

Yesterday, I went to the Renaissance Faire in Bristol, which is always a great time. While there, I ran into Joe Ferlo, and his always charming daughter, Alyssa. Joe is the former manager of the Capitol Civic Centre in Manitowoc, and currently holds a similar position at the Grand Opera House in Oshkosh. They were at the faire to see his oldest daughter, Angela, who is part of this season's Ren Faire cast. Some of you might remember when Angela played the title role in the Masquers' production of "Annie." Other notable local roles included Peter Pan, and Louisa in "The Fantastics."

Angela just graduated from Stevens Point and is contemplating a move to Chicago in fall. At the faire, she is preforming on the kids' stage, and doing some greenspace performance throughout the grounds as a marionette. That's Angela on the right. She did a great job!

I got a nice note from Jean Feraca last week. Jean promised to send me a picture of her wearing her Aunt Tooties's nightgown as a wedding dress. In her book, Jean described the dress and talked about all sort of embellishments, including feathers. I had visions of showgirl feathers blooming from everywhere. Jean saw the need to set me straight. I do think she looks quite lovely, and the understated feathers on her shoulder are a nice touch. But, my mental image of Jean as Carmen Miranda has merit as well, don't you think?

What am I reading? I picked up a play script - the mysterious title got my attention: Alice Invents a Little Game and Alice Always Wins. I think I want to be Alice!